According to The Washington Post, 991 people were fatally shot by police in 2015. By comparison, as of this week 730 people have been shot and killed by cops in 2016—and we have three months in the year left to go.
(This is 22 fewer fatal shootings this year than at the same time last year.)
The Post’s database is based on news reports, public records, social media and other sources.
In 2015, no officers were convicted of murder or manslaughter charges. In fact, since 2005 there have only been 13 to 26 police convicted of murder or manslaughter in fatal on-duty shootings (estimates vary).
Some were in and out of jail in months. Some even became police officers again. But only a tiny portion of cops who kill while on duty ever face charges for their actions, much less actual punishment.
The inability to convict police on murder or manslaughter charges for fatal on-duty shootings contrasts with a recent increase in prosecution. In 2015, 18 officers faced such charges, a significant increase from an average of around five officers each year over the preceding decade. Many of these cases involved incidents from previous years and have yet to go to trial, but if history is any indicator, it seems unlikely that many of the officers will be convicted.
According to the Huffington Post: “One reason for the lack of prosecution and subsequent conviction begins with the Supreme Court’s legal standard for use of lethal force. According to Graham v. Connor, the landmark 1989 case that established the standard, each ‘use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.’ The ruling specifically cautions against judging police too harshly for split-second decisions made in “tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving” situations. All of this gives officers plenty of leeway to explain why their actions were legal.”
If you want to get into this subject in a little more depth, John Oliver recently did an entertaining segment you may wish to view.
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